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Rep. O'Rourke holds Town Hall meeting, talks with veterans

By Jerry Najera, Multimedia Journalist
Published On: Jan 15 2014 10:05:12 PM CST

O'Rourke and Veterans sit down to talk about issues vets say are plaguing the Veterans Affairs department.

El Paso, TEXAS -

Rep.  Beto O'Rourke held a town hall meeting with local veterans who have serious concerns regarding care and benefits they receive from the Department of Veteran Affairs Saturday afternoon.

O'rourke spoke with the veterans to update them on his work to improve benefits they're entitled to, but the vets had a message of their own for the congressman.

"They do have issues with the back log,""The programs that we have in the army in the military, in the VA are being plagued by toxic leadership,""Physiological abuse coming from chains of command," said veterans as they spoke to O'Rourke.

Servicemen and women say the Veterans Affairs department isn't equipped to handle their medical claims.

"They're not trained well enough to handle soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, and they have no medical background or experience," said veteran Joshua Segar.

Since Segar came back from Afghanistan, he says he just hasn't been the same.

"I was a soldier, I was an infantryman, I was proud to be in the Army, and you look at me now and I'm just a shell of my former self," said Segar.

Segar says PTSD is taking over his life.

"Not only is it ruining my personal family, my family life is ruined, me mentally and inside I just don't know who I am anymore," said Segar.

Segar insists he just can't count on Veterans Affairs.

"We truly need help out here, and honestly thats all I can say, it's just we need help out here," said Segar.

O'rourke recently made a trip to Waco, Texas, the processing center where El Paso's Veteran claims end up.

"We need to improve the level of service veterans get in this community," said O'Rourke. He tells ABC-7, "We are hearing from far to many veterans who are waiting far too long to hear back on disability claims, who are waiting too long to see a doctor, who are really having a hard time seeing a mental specialist, so we need more resources."

O'Rourke says there are already talks about improving the quality of care for vets.

"I think the chances are pretty good that we will have a full-service VA medical facility here in El Paso," O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke tells ABC-7 he wrote a bill called the Faster Filling Act that will help veterans file fully developed claims, and that will ensure they will get a full response from the VA within 100 days as opposed to the 400 days that some veterans are seeing now.

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